OAKLAND — In the midst of a six-game losing streak, the Royals and their scuffling offense needed a strong pitching performance to stop the slide.
Danny Duffy provided that on Saturday in a 2-0 win over the A’s at the Coliseum, allowing no runs on three hits and three walks and striking out 10 in an economical seven innings of work.
“He’s our Number One starter,” left fielder Alex Gordon said. “He looked like the Danny Duffy we need him to be.”
Paulo Orlando hit an RBI single in the second inning to drive in Ryan Goins, and Gordon tacked on an insurance run with a long home run to right in the ninth.
The story, though, was Duffy. After not recording a strikeout in an outing for the first time since 2015 against the Angels on Monday, Duffy returned to form in a big way with his first game with double-digit strikeouts since last May against the Yankees.
“I’ve been around this game for a long time,” Duffy said. “I knew my team needed innings today. I know our bullpen has been taxed.”
Duffy allowed just two runners to reach scoring position, escaping his biggest jam in the seventh. With runners on first and second and one out, Duffy struck out Chad Pinder on three pitches and then punched out Josh Phegley to end his day at 98 pitches.
“There’s no free strikes, so throw every fastball with conviction and go right after them with every pitch,” Duffy said on his mindset. “We were throwing our best pitch with each pitch.”
After struggling to command his fastball in his last outing, Duffy commanded all three of his pitches — fastball, changeup and slider — on Saturday. Duffy was ahead in the count often, and he said catcher Salvador Perez called a lot of changeups to keep hitters off balance. He thought he made the A’s hit his pitches all game long, and manager Ned Yost agreed.
“Got ahead in the count, [had] really, really good stuff all day long,” Yost said. “We need Danny. This was good to see him pitch like this.”
Yost said he wanted to send Duffy back out for the eighth, but ultimately he went to the bullpen. Kevin McCarthy pitched a scoreless eighth and Kelvin Herrera recorded his 14th save to close out the game. It is the first time the Royals have shut out an opponent since April 9 against the Mariners, a welcome sight for a pitching staff that entered the day with the worst ERA in the Majors.
Despite the win, the Royals’ offense continued to struggle, as A’s starter Chris Bassitt pitched well on the other end in seven innings of work. The Royals managed just three hits, and were held to two runs or fewer for the sixth time in the last nine games.